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Floral Park crosswalk complaints get Nassau County attention

A car stops short, not seeing Chris Schneider

A car stops short, not seeing Chris Schneider and Terry Donnelly as they cross Tulip Avenue at Iris Avenue in Floral Park on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. A blinking light will be installed by Nassau County as early as Wednesday, April 27. Credit: Johnny Milano

“Crosswalk Chris” Schneider and his Floral Park neighbors pushed for three years to get a crosswalk and warning signs installed on part of Tulip Avenue, only to find that the stripes on the roadway seemed to make it more dangerous for pedestrians.

Before the crosswalk at Iris Avenue was painted in July 2015, “people knew they had to dodge vehicular traffic,” Schneider, 72, said of pedestrians trying to cross the busy street. “Now they think it’s safe, that drivers will give them the right of way because a sign down the street tells drivers to do that. But drivers don’t see the signs; they think they have the right of way.”

Tulip Avenue serves as the hub of the 16,000-resident village, with metered parking along the stretch that includes a bank, supermarket, pizzeria, candy store, stationery store and drugstore.

“This crosswalk was not well thought-out, and it’s a nightmare during rush hour that I try to avoid at all costs,” said community activist Matthew Sexton, 38.

The warning signs at Violet Avenue on the south side of Tulip and at Plainfield Avenue on the north side display a figure of a pedestrian and the word “ahead.” Another sign in the middle of the block at the crosswalk also displays the pedestrian symbol and the phrase “Yield on each side of the street.”

Terry Donnelly, 54, who Schneider said was the first to dub him “Crosswalk Chris,” said drivers simply don’t pay attention.

“There’s a light at the corner of Plainfield, and drivers are often trying to make it before it turns red,” Donnelly said. “They don’t see the signs that say ‘Yield.’ ”

Schneider, a retired social studies teacher, and others in the community said no pedestrians have been struck, but there have been plenty of close calls.

Several times since July, they asked officials of Nassau County, which is responsible for the road, to place a blinking yellow light at the crosswalk to get the attention of drivers.

After a Newsday question last week about the requests, Nassau officials said the Department of Public Works would install a blinking light as soon as tomorrow.

“Mark-outs are being made now in anticipation” of the installation, said Brian Nevin, a spokesman for County Executive Edward Mangano. “As we are utilizing a crew that has prior assignments there is always a possibility of a day or so delay if the project they are currently on has an issue.”

The crews are to install two flashing lights and two “advance warning” flashing lights that are activated when a pedestrian waiting to cross the street pushes a button. The project will cost between $35,000 and $40,000, Nevin said.

“After all of these years, we are very happy to also get the blinking lights that should really slow down motorists and enhance pedestrian safety here in the village,” Schneider said yesterday..

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